Frank Manzo doesn’t have anything to prove in the Top Alcohol Funny Car ranks.
The New Jersey native has won 15 national championships.
Last weekend, at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Manzo collected his 98th national event win and his 37th consecutive final round win.
Manzo also leads the Lucas Oil championship point standings with a 593 total, followed by Annie Whitely at 527.
Despite his success, Manzo, 59, doesn’t take anything for granted.
“The season has been really rocky,” Manzo said in a tuesday evening interview with Competition Plus. “My car has been shaking and we have had other issues with it, and we really don’t have a type of car we are accustomed to in the previous years. I need to get my car straightened out and I have struggled all year with it. I have tried a lot of different things, things I thought it needed to fix. I guess right now it is mad at me. I just have to keep working at it really hard. I don’t feel I’m ready to turn the corner yet. I was fortunate to win Brainerd, but I had trouble every run. It just seemed like the car in the other lane had more trouble than me.”
Although Manzo is in the midst of another busy season, he did take a moment to reflect on his first national event victory.
“I think about my first win in Bowling Green, Ky., in 1980 it was,” Manzo stated. “I was driving a AA/Altered. It was actually my alcohol Funny Car at that time and I put an Altered body on it for a year or so. I went there (Bowling Green) last year for the points race and I had not been back there in a long time and it brought back a lot of memories.”
Manzo has not had much time to think about any other special wins because of his hectic schedule.
“I’m just having so much trouble with the car right now and I’m putting so much effort into it, plus, working on Sheikh Khalid’s Pro Mod all the time,” explained Manzo. “I just came off a 12 week in row stand between Pro Mod and alcohol Funny Car. So, I have not had much time to really think about anything or reflect on anything.”
Manzo also is not ready to disclose any specific plans to what his future holds beyond 2012.
“I will be in racing,” Manzo said.
Working for Sheikh Khalid and Al-Anabi Racing’s Pro Mod team has added a new wrinkle to Manzo’s illustrious career.
“It is all new for me, especially this year,” Manzo said. “I have been working on an automatic car in the ADRL and we started off good and went to the first race and qualified No. 1 and won the first race (in Pro Extreme). I have a driver in Alex Hossler because the Sheikh has a lot of stuff going on at home. After that first (Pro Mod race), the wheels came off. We have been having trouble qualifying and getting beat in first round. It has just been one of those years. I lost my handle on my alcohol Funny Car and I lost the handle on the Pro Mod. A lot of people say one is an automatic and one is a clutch and you are letting one make your decisions and that’s not really true. I think that sometimes people say that I can just pull into a track with any kind of car and win the race. I am human. I’m like a .400 baseball hitter and right now I’m batting .120. Hopefully, I can come out of this slump at the right time.”
Manzo’s passion for the sport, however, hasn’t diminished at all.
“I love to race my car and I love to work on cars,” Manzo said. “I really enjoy tuning the ADRL automatic car. It is a totally different type of scenario than the Funny Car. I’m learning every day on the ADRL car and I’m actually still learning with the alcohol Funny Car.”
Manzo also believes he isn’t the favorite to the capture the Lucas Oil alcohol Funny Car world title.
“The championship in the alcohol Funny Car, I’m not saying I’m out of it but I have a slim chance,” Manzo said. “There are three other cars, I’m not going to mention names, but I think right now if you were an oddsmaker, they have much better odds. I’m just having a rough year, but I’m going to keep digging and see what happens. I’m just going to race my car and do the best I can. At the end of the year, however the chips fall, so be it.”
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